A Claude Monet painting out of the public eye for decades sold for just over USD 27 million, leading the bidding at an auction of art from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, businessman Edgar Bronfman and other major collectors.
"Water Lilies," Monet's 1907 rendition of his beloved garden in Giverny, France, went to an undisclosed Asian buyer in the season-opening auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's yesterday. The painting, part of Clark's collection since 1930, has not been publicly exhibited since 1926.
Christie's is selling hundreds of items from Clark's collection after a feud over her estate was settled in the fall. The Montana copper mining heiress died at 104 in 2011.
Her father, US Sen William A Clark, founded Las Vegas. Art from other estates, including works by Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso from the collection of the late billionaire Bronfman, also changed hands. The Canadian-American, a former head of Seagram Co. and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, died late last year.
All told, Christie's sold 47 pieces yesterday, raising more than USD 285 million.
None of the sales eclipsed the artists' auction records. Picasso's 1942 painting of his mistress in a purple dress titled "Portrait of Dora Maar" and Wassily Kandinsky's 1909 abstract "Beach Scene," sold for USD 22.5 million and USD 17.2 million, respectively.
Both came from the estate of German collectors Viktor and Marianne Langen and were at auction for the first time. Amedeo Modigliani's 1919 portrait "Young Man," part of a private American collection, sold for USD 17.6 million.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Young Women Playing Badminton," another from the Clark estate, sold for USD 11.4 million.
The prices include the buyer's premium.
Christie's is scheduled to sell other pieces from the Clark collection on June 18.
The scene moves to Sotheby's today. The auction house is offering four sculptures and one oil painting by Alberto Giacometti. Leading the selection is the artist's "City Square," a multi-figural sculpture that is estimated to bring USD 12 million to USD 18 million.